CLEVELAND, OH, May 11, 2018 – Season 2 of Cleveland Chain Reaction is taking shape. Old Brooklyn, a city neighborhood south of Downtown on the west side, will host the economic development project that matches local investors with local entrepreneurs. By December 2018, Chain Reaction aims to have five new businesses preparing to open in the neighborhood. Old Brooklyn was selected from a group of four neighborhood finalists, which also included Midtown, Shaker Square/Larchmere and Collinwood.

The Cleveland Chain Reaction follows in the footsteps of LeBron James’ Cleveland Hustles, a reality television series that aired on CNBC in 2016. This effort, which is being produced by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), GlazenUrban, and JumpStart, along with media partner WJW Fox 8, will deliver up to $1 Million of investment. The inaugural season took place in Slavic Village.

Old Brooklyn Community Development Corp. Executive Director, Jeffrey T. Verespej, notes the enthusiasm and anticipation around this announcement amongst residents and business owners. “We

are eager to welcome Chain Reaction to Old Brooklyn, and excited to join it with the existing momentum rising in the neighborhood and fueling growth in Cleveland.”

Five local investors have also committed to the second Chain Reaction season. These city advocates have each pledged $100,000 to invest in local scale-up businesses. Collectively, the five new businesses that open during the project will bring jobs and additional economic activity to the Old Brooklyn neighborhood. Meet our five investors:

  • Rick Blaszak is a life-long Clevelander who has started several small businesses in the city, and is excited to explore more ways to attract young, creative entrepreneurs to our urban neighborhoods.
  • Bernie Moreno is a very active community member who owns several businesses in Northeast Ohio, primarily in the auto dealership space.
  • Eddie Ni is an entrepreneur specializing in commercial real estate development, retail, import/ export, manufacturing and kitchen cabinetry wholesale businesses. He wants to provide more business opportunities for people in the community.
  • Vanessa Whiting is an attorney finessed on affordable housing and community development law. She owns 15 Popeye’s franchises, loves Cleveland, its people and its neighborhoods.
  • Dan Zelman is a local entrepreneur and is excited to help foster growth in a neighborhood that needs it.

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress coordinated the neighborhood competition to host Cleveland Chain Reaction and will provide support to Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation through the duration of this effort. Joel Ratner, President & CEO of Neighborhood Progress, states “Old Brooklyn is poised to welcome new businesses to its commercial corridors. We are eager to work with the CDC as they continue to create new and exciting opportunities in the neighborhood.”

Steve Millard, Executive Director of COSE, states, “Chain Reaction is a one of a kind opportunity for small business owners to get in front of willing, patient investors that believe in their idea and their plan for one of Cleveland’s key neighborhoods. The most important thing right now is to get small business owners to throw their hat in the ring to be considered to pitch to our investors.”

“We are very excited to partner with a great group of local organizations to help applicants navigate this program,” said JumpStart Partner, Services and Deal Flow Management, Lorne Novick. “Not only will we help all selected finalists prepare for their investor pitches with intensive educational assistance, every single applicant to Cleveland Chain Reaction will also have immediate access to all of JumpStart’s services—including our popular Core City: Cleveland program.”

Alan Glazen, an avid investor for small businesses in the City of Cleveland, provides support to the participating investors. “We’re excited to have this new group of investors for Chain Reaction. They understand the important role small businesses play in neighborhood economic development and are committed to making an impact in Old Brooklyn,” he states.

Cleveland Chain Reaction is now accepting applications for businesses who are interested in being considered as one of the final five companies who will work with our investors to build a new business in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood. Applications are available at and will be accepted through May 30, 2018.

While inspired by Cleveland Hustles, Cleveland Chain Reaction is an independent and unrelated effort with some of the same Clevelanders involved to support the continued economic development opportunity that Hustles sparked. Cleveland Neighborhood Progress is a local community development intermediary working to foster inclusive neighborhoods of choice and opportunity in Cleveland. COSE is a small business support organization providing Northeast Ohio business owners networking and educational events and programs, advocacy on legislative and regulatory issues and cost-effective group purchasing programs. GlazenUrban is a private community development company founded by Alan Glazen, who also served as an investor on Cleveland Hustles. JumpStart Inc. is a nationally recognized non-profit venture development organization with a mission to unlock the full potential of diverse and ambitious entrepreneurs to economically transform entire communities.

Learn more about Cleveland Chain Reaction at